Thursday, 29 October 2015

October Fashion & Beauty Favourites

Spring blossoms, a return to warmer weather and terrible hay fever have all made a reappearance during October but im not complaining as a change of season has also brought with it some new favourites to both my wardrobe and makeup bag. Here is what I've been loving in October:

The Perfect Striped Dress :: Do you ever find that sometimes that most basic clothing pieces are the hardest to get right. I can't remember the number of times I've bought a striped dress which just doesn't quite hit the mark. Being five foot two it's pretty easy for things to be too long or not fit the way a garment was intended, but this stripey number from Dorothy Perkins is so perfect. It is figure hugging but I've been loving wearing it with a denim jacket and my white converse shoes for an easy but put-together casual look.

Button Up Denim A-Line Skirts :: I love it when trends are actually wearable and super flattering for practically every body type. A Line skirts are my go-to for the best shape for my body type (read: thighs) and it's one of the only elements of the 70s trend that I think is going to stick around for a while. This button up number is from Dotti and I'm seriously considering getting it in black as well.

REN Clarifying Toner :: Remember my mini-MECCA beauty hall and how I said I'd do a review of said products sometime.... This product has ignited my love for toners. Having only really used supermarket jobs which don't actually do much, switching to a 'proper' toner has had a significant effect on my skin. Oily and spot prone girls might be interested in giving this a try as it's one of the only products that has quite noticeably helped clear up my scars and helps prevent pimples from being as bad as they could be.

Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer :: Another MECCA product I bought last month and have been loving. I bought the tiny sized 8.95ml bottle because this stuff is eye wateringly expensive and I wasn't sure it was worth the hype. Fortunately its bloody brilliant especially for preventing oil from ruining your makeup, something I constantly struggle with. The other upside? A tiny tiny amount goes a loooong way. Since the bottle I bought has a mini pump to go with its mini size, I squeeze out a tiny tiny blob, so tiny it's hardly worth calling a blob and it covers my entire face. Amazing, brilliant and may just bite the bullet and buy a big size when my tiny bottle eventually runs out.

Rimmel Kate Moss Matte Lipstick No.30 :: I've been on the hunt for a purple lipstick for a while now but wasn't sure if I was brave enough to go full purple. This baby is a berry shaded purple which is a tad brighter than what I would usually wear in autumn. It's probably not the most spring appropriate shade but it's just so pretty I think it works all year around. Rimmel matte lipsticks have become my go to since they're just so cheap and the formula rivals that of many high end brands.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Book Adaptations I Enjoyed Better On The Screen

Inspired by a question I answered when filming my Unpopular Opinions video* - Which movie did you prefer to the book? - I thought I would pick a few of my top movie over book scenarios, a controversial topic I know!

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh :: It pains me to say this as Trainspotting is one of my favourite movies ever but the book is dark, man, real dark and even as someone who loves black comedies I found reading about Scottish smackheads a bit more than I could handle. Also deciphering the Scottish accent it's written in made it that much more difficult to get into.

A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin :: Sorry, sorry, sorry. Blasphemous I know, but as a massive fan of the television series I really found that I understood GoT's many plotlines that much easier when I was able to put a face to the names. Don't get me wrong I enjoyed Martin's writing and obvs he gets all the credit in making this series what it is but I needed some serious flow chart action to stop me from being confused all the damn time.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne :: A great book that I probably would have enjoyed more if it went without the hyped "it's middle-grade fiction but suitable for adults too." (Although in that case I probably wouldn't have read it). The book is a fantastic middle grade book but I felt it wasn't deep enough and didn't work as an adult fiction book because it's not meant to! Lets call this a case of having too high expectations. I enjoyed the film more.

No Country For Old Men by Cormac McCarthy :: As a massive Cormac McCarthy fan it actually pains me to add this one to the list but I made the rookie mistake of seeing the movie and then reading the book. McCarthy's book works so well as a screenplay they basically tore off the front and back covers and used it verbatim. It makes for a brilliant film but pretty much ruins the reading experience. Always, always read a McCarthy book first!

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo :: One of my all time favourite musicals both on the stage and in film (although sometimes I forget how weird it is watching a film when people are singing everything all the time) I absolutely hands down adore the thematic version of Les Miserables. Honestly I found the reading experiencing a tad miserable myself as I'm not the best person at persevering with classical fiction and this one is a long wade through convoluted waters.

Tell me, what books did you think were made better as movies?

*Coming to a blog post near you very soon!

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Reasons to Read: Literary Fiction

Ahhh literary fiction. I won't lie, I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the genre. On the one hand I think it's great to push yourself to read great literature, philosophical ideas and broaden our minds and vocabulary through literature. On the other hand sometimes I have to be in the mood to push myself to read books that have difficult prose! Today's post, however is a celebration of all the reasons to read this genre:

Oh the words! :: Literary fiction is usually the genre that inspires me the most to broaden my vocab but more than that just enjoy the beauty of fantastic writing. A lot of literary books I enjoy more for they way they are written rather than necessarily their plots or characters.

They make ya think :: Sure it's lovely to read my favourite genres, I'll always have time for crime fiction, historical novels and chick-lit that entertains and delights but thinking deeply about social, political or human nature is important. One of the joys of reading is discovering more about not only ourselves but broadening our perspectives.

They can be challenging :: I know the pain of struggling through a book that's perhaps too far out of our comfort zones but sometimes the only way to get better and improve at tackling difficult books is to practice. This doesn't mean you have to dive right in with Ulysees (personally I don't think I'll even be tackling James Joyce) but some of my favourite reads have been ones I've persevered with.

A new perspective :; Some of my favourite books in literary fiction are written by from the perspective of characters who don't have mainstream lives or opinions. I think this genre is a fantastic one for broadening minds and perspectives on subjects perhaps we've never considered before. Take Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides for example which tells the story of a hermaphrodite boy who spends his childhood raised as a female before discovering his true sexuality.

Is literary fiction a genre you enjoy reading too?

My Favourites: Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones, The Book Theif by Markus Zusak, Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Friday, 23 October 2015

The Girl In The Spiders' Web by David Lagercravtz

Lisbeth Salander is back! Not only that, but she's still the same badass butt kickin' bitch she always was. In The Girl In The Spider's Web, Salander and Mikael Blomkvist's paths cross again when a renown Swedish scientist Professor Balder seeks publicity for his story and protection for his Artificial Intelligence technology. Assisting Balder not only means putting themselves in danger from  those who wish to destroy Balder's technology but also people from Salander's past.

I have to say I had pretty high hopes for this book. The Millenium trilogy is one of my favourite series and Lisbeth Salander is one of the best morally ambiguous characters I've ever come across. The Girl in the Spider's Web got off to a slow start for me. It took a good few chapters to set up the story of Balder which involved Blomkvist and the magazine editors at Millenium but all the while I couldn't help but wait impatiently for Salander to come into the story. I was so relieved to find the same angst-ridden superhacker that we left in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest had returned under the writing of David Lagercrantz.

Although I missed Blomkvist and Salander working closely together in this book - there was barely a scene where they were actually face to face - Lagercrantz has drawn on Salander's back story and draws out characters from her past who now want to destroy her. Salanders family situation is explained in greater detail leaving us with a better impression and adding to our knowledge of how she grew to be the damaged woman she is today. Although the plot of this book held less interest for me than that of other Millenium books, it's Blomkvist and Salander's relationship that had me hanging on. I only hope this gets developed further into the next book.

Rating: ****

Friday, 16 October 2015

The Bedside Table Stack #12

Two of my favourite genres are gracing the bedside table books this month and I couldn't be happier about it. Take a look at my October reading list:

The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz :: My beloved Millenium trilogy has been continued and my thoughts halfway through reading this book are: it's just as awesome as it's predecessors. Lisbeth Salander and Mikhael Blomkvist are back in another twisty adventure and honestly I can barely register when reading that this isn't a Stieg Larsson novel. (To be fair I finished the last book about eighteen months ago and my memory can be a little rusty at times so take that with a grain of salt.) It has taken a few chapters for me to really get into the plot as Lisbeth is fairly absent in the beginning but now that I'm halfway through I really really want to find out what happens.

The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier :: Despite Chevalier being one of my favourite historical fiction authors I'd never picked up one of her most well known novels. I really like the premise of this book which connects a woman with the secrets of her ancestral past in a tiny French village. I've always found family secrets and ancestry to be a bit fascinating, mainly because every family seems to have them.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke :: Okay so you know I love me some historical set fiction as well as magical realism. So when I find a book that combines both of these elements it makes me go all heart-eyed emoji. Actually, the main reason this book caught my eye is I remember seeing the ads for the BBC series of the same name and thinking ooooh that looks gooood. At 1006 pages it's probably going to be the longest book I've ever read if I do indeed finish it. Expect a review in about six months time!

Monday, 12 October 2015

Unfinished Bookseries

I can be a bit slow to jump on the bandwagon of a bookseries. Most of the time I like to see if the hype is really worth it before delving into reading them as it's kind of a pet peeve of mine when series gets a bit stale part-way through. Here are the current series that I have unfinished business with and my thoughts so far on whether I will continue:

The Millennium Trilogy series :: I never had much time to make up my mind about whether I would continue to read this series (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) as not long after I heard a fourth book was being published I also heard that the reviews were pretty favourable. I have just finished reading The Girl In The Spider's Web and loved it so much that I really can't wait to continue reading more books! It's a shame I'll have such a long wait.

The Tea Rose :: This historical fiction trilogy is one I started a few years ago and I truly ADORE it. I have the final book in the series to go - there's the Tea Rose, the Wild Rose and the Winter Rose. What I love about this series is that although the books are related to one another and involve the same characters, each book has a focus on a different female lead. I think this is brilliant as the story's are diverse but I really enjoy reading about my favourite characters while getting to know ones who were more on the fringes of previous books. These books are a little bit of an emotional rollercoaster so I've given myself plenty of breathing space between reading books one, two and three. I'm itching to pick up the final book though!

Cormoran Strike series :: You probably know by now that these novels, written by JK Rowling under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith are one of my favourite crime novel series. I love that each book is a standalone novel in itself, yet each story builds on the character development and storyline of the past. With each book I feel like Galbraith finds her feet more and more in the crime genre and the relationship between Private Investigator Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robyn is one of my favourites since it's more mentor-based than romantic.

The Diviners series :: I was pretty much delighted to find out that The Diviners by Libba Bray was not a one-off book like I had originally thought and already has a sequel. It's one of the most entertaining Young Adult books I've ever read and surprisingly from a genre I never thought I would be interested in (paranormal). Lair of Dreams continues on the story of Evie O'Neill, a diviner who can "read" objects by touching them. I love the 1920s setting of New York city and the eccentric cast of characters in this series are what makes these books so great!

What book series have you still to finish?

Sunday, 11 October 2015

New Release Books | October 2015

It's a new month which means new books are droppin'. This month some of my most loved authors are releasing novels which makes me pretty happy. As usual all of my favourite genre's are covered with a little historical fiction, crime and thriller novels making the cut. Ooh there's even some YA in there too:

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly :: As a big fan of Donnelly's Tea Rose series (which I'm still to finish, they're just so emotionally exhausting I need a break in between!) I'm really intrigued to read her Young Adult novels. This is actually a historically set novel, so I'm not exactly branching out of my comfort zone there but baby steps people, baby steps. Set in the gilded age of New York (which is around the turn of the 19th century for all of you who didn't have to Wikipedia that....) Josephine Montfort lives a life of comfort thanks to her old money family. But when her father dies, Jo's rosy outlook on life does too and there may be more to his death than first expected.

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith :: Yussss, book number three by Ms Harry Potter herself is finally dropping this month and to be honest who cares what the plot is 'cause we all know I'm going to run out and buy it regardless of whether anything exciting happens. Fortunately Galbraith has thought up a plot and it sounds like a goodie. When Robin Ellacott, assistant to private detective Cormoran Strike opens a package destined for her boss, she's shocked to find a severed limb inside. Cormoran less so, but the list of people who aren't happy with him - and might take to severing legs in rage - is long enough. With the police being their usual useless selves, Cormoran and Robin set out to solve the case.

The Lake House by Kate Morton :: When Sadie Sparrow takes a hiatus from her job with the metropolitan police, she takes refuge at her grandfathers country house. But the house holds mysteries of its own that Sadie feels compelled to solve. While this sounds a little bit par-for-the-course for a Kate Morton novel I really enjoy the way she interweaves the stories of the past into the present time.

What books are you most looking forward to being released this month?


Thursday, 8 October 2015

A New Book Haul | Crime, Thriller & Historical Fiction

Something a little different for today's post in video form. My latest book haul featuring a few crime, thriller and historical fiction books. I hope you enjoy watching!

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Recent Reads:Candace Bushnell & Marian Keyes

Last month when I went perusing the aisles of my local library I really fancied some lighthearted reads that wouldn't take too much brainpower or emotion to get through. Thus two novels from authors who are well known for their wit and whimsy made their way home with me. Seeing as both books turned out to have very similar plots I thought I'd pop them into one quick review. Also, I may have forgotten to actually photograph them both together but isn't that Marian Keyes cover just so prettttty?

The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes :: Stella Sweeney is an ordinary mother, wife and beautician working in Dublin when two rather dramatic events put her life on a different course forever. One, a pranged car driven by a man in a Range Rover and Two, a terrible illness that leaves Stella only able to blink to communicate with her family and doctor for a year. When an opportunity for success and stardom comes Stella's way she finally has the chance to make something great for her life.

Marian Keyes for a long time was one of my favourite authors. I pretty much binge read her entire back catalogue of novels and for the past couple of years have forgotten to pick up her newer books. I can say for certain that the Woman Who Stole My Life is a classic Marian Keyes novel. It's funny and light-hearted and full of great characters and testing situations.Sounds good right?

The only problem is that when it comes to making those major life decisions Stella doesn't really deliver. I was a little disappointed at the lack of character development especially when the books whole premise is whether Stella will reach for her dreams. In reality a lot of other characters make decisions for her and by the end of the novel when this was still happening it was actually pretty disappointing.

Killing Monica by Candace Bushnell :: Pandy PJ Wallis is the author behind the bestselling book series turned movie franchise Monica. But when Monica's star finally overshadows her own PJ decides it's about time to kill off the beloved character once and for all.

I'll be honest and say I have really 'meh' feelings about this book. Candace Bushnell's characters (like PJ Wallis) are the elite variety and while there's something fun to read about the lives of the rich and famous I also felt PJ wasn't a very memorable character.

There's something about Bushnell's books that have just never hit the right note with me - yes they are snarky and fun but I guess that's why I often come away feeling like none of the characters have really grown on me much. Again the character development in this novel was pretty lacklustre as PJ didn't really grow or change throughout the book.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Looking Forward To Spring

This is probably going to end up being one of those 'like duh' posts because honestly, who doesn't like the warmer months of Spring and Summer? Spring has to be my favourite season in Australia though as the deliciously comfortable temperatures make basking in the outdoors a lot more enjoyable than when the oppressive heat of summer hits later on. Here is what I'm most looking forward to over the next few months:
  • Longer Evenings :: Even though we don't get daylight savings here in WA (seriously people!!) I can't wait for the evenings to slowly start drawing out and weekday evenings can be spent outside without fear of mosquitos biting my ankles at 5.30.
  • Reading Outside :: Finally being able to sit outside in the fresh air without a blanket or fear of being rained on is my favourite way to enjoy reading this season.
  • Barbeque Dinners :: Is there anything better than barbequeing EVERYTHING you can find in the refrigerator for dinner? Well it's a good thing I'm such a fan too as our kitchen renovations are about to take place in a few weeks which means the barbie will be our main source of cooking. Bring on the sausages I say!
  • Bike Rides and Beach Days :: Spring is the best season for being active outdoors without dying of heat exhaustion. (If you can't already tell I still don't think I've properly acclimatised to the height of summer in WA. 35 degree days are not my jam!) Likewise beach trips when the sand isn't at thermo-nuclear levels makes it that much more enjoyable.
  • Movie Nights :: There are quite a few movie nights held in beautiful locations - think parks and wineries - around my town and I'm fully looking forward to taking advantage of them once the weather perks up.
  • All The Summer Clothes :: I've already ditched the tights and am ready to embrace light layers, short hemlines and getting my (fake) tan on.
  • Wildflowers :: Although you're not allowed to pick them, wildflower season is my favourite in WA as everything bursts into life before having the sun suck it out of them in Summer. Right now our Mulberry tree is in full bloom, our plum tree is blossoming and out in the countryside all the grasslands are starting to transform into places of beauty. Hayfever tablets can't even make me dislike this season!
What are you most looking forward to this season?

Sunday, 4 October 2015

A Mini MECCA Beauty Haul

I've had a wishlist as long as my arm at Australian high-end beauty store MECCA for quite a while now and have only recently been able to indulge in a couple of items. I've been waiting patiently for some of my skincare to get used up so that I can replace them with more expensive items. Mostly because I think my combination skin type means that supermarket and drugstore skincare just ain't going to cut it. I'm quite looking for to seeing how much difference higher-end products can make. Here's what I've picked up recently:

REN Clarifying Toner :: I've decided to pull out the big guns when buying skincare and this toner has been on my wishlist for so so long. REN have such a great reputation in the beauty blogging community and I'm certainly hoping this can improve the breakouts that have been occuring around my jawline over the last couple of weeks. This particular toner is supposed to be great for oily/combo and blemish prone skin which is just what I need!

Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara :: Ridiculous names aside this too is a holy grail mascara for a lot of bloggers. My beloved Max Factor Masterpiece Transform Mascara is pretty near to being dryed out and I really fancied giving something a little more high-end a try. The wand is fairly fat and fluffy and since I usually prefer a small skinny wand this may take a wee bit of getting used to.

Hourglass Mineral Veil Primer :: The main thing that interests me with this primer is it's oil soaking properties. At $70 for a medium and something around $120 for a normal sized bottle this stuff does not come cheap. Hence why I've only shelled out for a teeny weeny bottle of the stuff ($25) as I don't want to regret splurging on something I'm not sure will work wonders. One the one hand I'm looking forward to experiencing the awesome-ness of this product on the other hand the thought of spending that much money on a primer makes me wince!

So I've made a tiny dent in the wishlist. What high-end skincare or makeup do you love?

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Book Chat: Paper Towns by John Green

Two book reviews in the same month on two Young Adult fiction books? I know, look at me all branching outta my comfort zones. I've actually been itching to read Paper Towns if only because they make these things into movies so darn quickly that I was afraid I would be forced to watch it on a plane somewhere and it would spoil it for me. Rather than doing a traditional book review I thought we should just sit down, grab a cuppa and have a wee chat about my first foray into the YA land of John Green.

So what's it all about then?

Quentin Jacobsen has grown up living next to Margo Roth Spiegelman, a girl so awe-inspiring she's always referred to in her full name. She's cooler than cool and despite once being friends Q and Margo (I'll shorten her name for ease) no longer have much to do with one another. That is until Margo climbs through Q's bedroom window dressed as a ninja and takes Q on an all night adventure. Which sounds fun, and is, until Margo doesn't turn up for School the next day and Q makes it his mission to find her.

What's good about it?

I loved John Green's writing. He's very smart, witty, funny and his use of metaphor is pretty great i.e Margo's whole spiel about paper towns being full of paper people really stuck in my mind. Paper Towns is my first John Green novel so I have to say I haven't been able to compare it to any others but I have heard they get a little formulaic. Also I kind of like that Margo was this amazing girl who everyone wanted to be friends with but no one really knew. The longer Q searches for her the more he realises that no-one really knew Margo at all. There's also a fair bit of 'coming of age' stuff, friendships, relationships and accepting other people as they are that I quite enjoyed and thought was done well and non-cheesy.

What's not so great?

Even though I've never read a John Green novel the 'special snowflake' character is alive and well in Margo Roth Spiegelman. Fortunately for me I had the image of Cara Delevigne in my head the whole way through this book so it was pretty well pulled off. But, I didn't really buy into why Margo left in such a mysterious fashion anyway.

Should I read the book or see the movie?

I'm always going to recommend reading the book but moreso in this case as Cara D as Margo Roth Spiegelman really does it a great service in making her seem like the badass John Green portrays her to be.
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